July 12, 2017
As Bucks County investigators continue their search for the four young men who went missing last week, a 20-year-old "person of interest" finds himself at the center of attention in the mysterious midsummer case.
Cosmo DiNardo, of Bensalem, was arrested for the second time in three days on Wednesday. Bucks County prosecutors, tight-lipped about concrete evidence for days, charged him in connection with the theft of a vehicle owned by 21-year-old Tom Meo, one of the four missing men.
The car was found in a garage on the farmland owned by DiNardo's parents in Solebury Township, where an intensive search involving cadaver dogs and construction equipment has escalated in recent days.
Investigators are looking for Meo, 22-year-old Mark Sturgis, 19-year-old Dean Finocchiaro and 19-year-old Jimi Taro Patrick.
Named a "person of interest" on Monday, DiNardo was released on bail Tuesday night after posting 10 percent of $1 million for a felony firearms possession charge.
The charge, dating back to February, had been dropped in May but was refiled again this week as Bucks County prosecutors linked DiNardo to evidence in the current disappearances.
An affidavit of probable cause in DiNardo's initial arrest said he illegally possessed a Savage Arms 20 gauge shotgun and corresponding ammunition. He was prohibited from owning the shotgun because he was "known to be suffering from a mental illness" after his involuntary commitment to a mental institution, according to a criminal complaint.
A New York Times report Wednesday morning said Bucks County prosecutors had been attempting to have Bensalem Police refile the firearms charge against DiNardo for weeks prior to the disappearances.
DiNardo's connections to the four missing men are not entirely known, but information about his past is beginning to surface.
An unnamed friend of DiNardo's told the Huffington Post he is a 2015 graduate of Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem. Later that year, he enrolled at Arcadia University in Glenside, telling the school's website he planned to major in biology.
“I’m going to go overseas, hopefully to Italy and the rest of Europe,” DiNardo said in the Arcadia report.
The same friend said DiNardo eventually dropped out of Arcadia and had planned to resume his studies at Bucks County Community College, though it was unknown whether he ever enrolled.
Photos seen on DiNardo's social media accounts show an interest in hunting and fishing.
But one Instagram post, screengrabbed by Heavy.com, appears to confirm a traumatic account of a recent accident referenced by at least two of DiNardo's friends.
The sources told both HuffPost and Heavy.com that DiNardo was involved in a dirt bike wreck about six or seven months ago. He was stranded in the woods with serious injuries for more than a day, the friends said, leaving him with brain damage that seemed to alter his behavior.
Among the missing men, only Patrick is listed as a mutual Facebook friend. Patrick disappeared last Wednesday and was the first of the four to go missing. Meo and Sturgis, who are friends and co-workers, went missing on Friday. Finocchiaro, a mutual friend of Meo and Sturgis, also went missing Friday.
Neighbors in the vicinity of the DiNardos' Solebury Township farm told PhillyVoice they heard four "disturbing" rounds of gunshots fired late last Saturday afternoon, July 8, well after the young men had all been reported missing. This information was later provided to Bucks County detectives.
Exactly how investigators are linking DiNardo to the four disappearances remains an incomplete picture.
“Sometimes the chasm between being a person of interest and being a person that is actually accused, or arrested and certainly convicted of a crime is so wide that we never cross it,” Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said Tuesday.
Search crews have recovered important evidence at the 90-acre farm located near Route 202 and Aquetong Road, according to Weintraub, but no human remains have been recovered. Prosecutors strongly suspect foul play is involved in the disappearances.
"We are going to find something for sure – I have no doubt about that," Weintraub said Wednesday afternoon. "I can't really confirm more. But we have been utilizing some amazing resources – resources that I didn't even know existed, let alone know that we had."